Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of Wizards at War, HOW IS THIS THE FIRST CHAPTER. HOW. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

FIRST CHAPTER. F I R S T.

But there were changes besides the fit of her T-shirt. Nita Callahan racked the toothbrush and then leaned close to the mirror over the sink, pulling down the skin above her right cheekbone with one finger. My tan looks pretty good, but are those circles under my eyes? she thought. I look wrecked.

DIANE DUANE WAS TEASING ME WITH THE BIG REVEAL AT THE END OF THIS CHAPTER IN THE SECOND GODDAMN PARAGRAPH. evil THIS IS EVIL. Because this all totally works as a way to communicate that Nita is changing as is normal for a teenager, but it’s also a remarkably subtle way of referring to the ONCOMING DEATH OF ALL WIZARDRY IN THE UNIVERSE.

how is this happening HOW

This book opens with such normalcy, at least as much of it that you can find from such a surreal world. But this is also the eighth book in the series, so the strangeness is only strange out of context. At this point, the reader is used to this, and Nita’s housemates are merely the wizards from the previous book who are still on their excursus. The fact that one looks like a Christmas tree, one’s a purple centipede, and the other is a walking stereotype of a fantasy king means little to us because that’s just what the world of Young Wizards is.

I’m thinking of these sort of things because, in hindsight, Duane paints this life as utterly routine. There are facets of our own lives in this text, from morning habits to breakfast to pets. Duane’s tweaked them to fit within the Young Wizards universe, but otherwise? It’s life. It’s familiar. Many of us struggled with the appearance of pimples and zits. (My mother still has my eighth grade school photo hanging in the living room, and I hate it because it was taken just after one of the worst breakouts I ever had.) We also dealt with the dread of spring break ending and not feeling rested enough. (Still 100% bitter that there are people who got TWO WEEKS off. That is a deep injustice.) THIS FEELS SO REAL AND IT WAS ALL A TRICK AND I FEEL BETRAYED.

In the best way, obviously. The dread of the cliffhanger at the end of Wizard’s Holiday hung over the text, obviously, and as soon as Tom and Carl said that they’d be coming over to the Callahan household, I tried to brace myself for the news. Something serious was about to happen! I knew it! I thought I was ready! Why else would all the Senior Wizards on Earth have disappeared? Why else would Spot have repeated, “Uh-oh,” over and over again?

And yet, I was not ready for the sheer severity of what Tom and Carl were about to report. I was lost in the joyous rapport of Dairine’s new friends, in Nita and Kit getting their first full experience with Roshaun, in Sker’ret consuming teen magazines and referring to them as junk food. It came at me so fast, y’all.

“Some of you,” [Tom] said, “will have noticed that the world has getting… well, a lot more complicated of late. And, seemingly, a lot worse.”

Sure! Duane makes reference to the September 11 attacks (which happened in canon, too) here, but Tom actually meant a much wider scope. Not just the US, not just Earth, not just the galaxy, and not just the past few years. The “past couple thousand years” is what he meant by “of late.” And in that time?

“And now we know the change is upon us… because the expansion of the universe is speeding up.”

Like Kit, I initially did not understand why this was a big deal. I also learned that the universe has always been expanding, so… what’s the big deal? Even when Kit realized that things in the universe were getting “farther and farther away from everything else,” I wasn’t disturbed. It was concerning, but not that dire. The discovery of dark matter by numerous societies and cultures all at the same time was a little more bizarre, but… what did that mean? Well, Tom spelled it out it for us.

“…it’s going to look like a slowly increasing physical and then mental weariness. We’re going to start finding it hard to care, even hard to believe in what we’re doing. And then our wizardry will vanish.”

Ha. hadsf dfsh;lasdkj asdkfjkhd;klfj WHAT THE HELL. That’s not possible, is it? EXCEPT IT IS, WHY WOULD TOM SAY THAT, HE CAN’T LIE. I don’t understand the logistics of this, but this threat is leveled in the FIRST CHAPTER OF THIS BOOK. I can’t get over it, y’all! Shit has never gotten this real so quickly in this series! IT EXPLAINS WHY TOM AND CARL ARE SO TIRED AND WHY TOM’S HAIR IS GRAYING SO FAST.

Oh, Diane Duane wasn’t finished with me yet.

“So, if you guys are going to lose your wizardry for a while… who’s going to take over for you as Seniors?” he said. “Who’s going to be running the planet?”

Tom and Carl looked at each other, then at Nita and Kit.

“You are,” they said.

I’m done. I have only read one chapter of this book and I am done.

I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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